Monday, October 09, 2006

Anyone for polo chaps?

Jane Ashworth of Street Games said that you can blame everything from the cost of going to swimming pools to the inability of single mothers to find the time to take children to training for the class imbalance. But if the bias isn't tackled, then Britain will do as dismally as ever in the London Olympics.

A bit of an odd one, this, as Jane Ashworth, previously known as an expert on left-infighting and a leading light of the anti-Stopper jihad, appears in her day-job guise as an sports administrator. Given the breadth of employment represented by Eustonite signatories can we expect others to pop up as experts on pharmaceuticals or academia?

Anyway, it seems to me that Jane's Marxist roots are showing here. There are many reasons why different sports exhibit different class composition, and they often don't have to do with access being restricted because of lack of financial means. Participation in sport, as participation in other cultural activities, is something people use as a class marker. Croquet would be relatively cheap and easy for the workers to engage in, but they don't. And is anyone going to say that Britain's international show jumping performance is dismal because of the disproportionate representation of the Windsors and their cronies?

The fact is, that Jane, like lobbyists for other areas (theatre, ballet, opera, gardening?) is using the access questions to try to wring more money out of government. Of course, unlike some other areas of culture, she can also play the patriotism card. (Is patriotism the last refuge of Euston?)

Class and inequality do scar British life. This Nick knows. The solution -- if there is one -- isn't to direct government resources to improving "access" to those areas of life with the best lobbyists: it is to give those "from the bottom of the heap" more resources to spend on sport, opera, or critical criticism, just as they have a mind.

6 Comments:

Blogger Bruschetta Boy said...

the idea of encouraging working class children to give up football (average salary for elite athlete; millions) in favour of tossing the javelin (average salary; fuck-all if you're lucky) seems like a calculated act of cruelty and the only compensation is that the working clas are probably smart enough to know whose advice to take.

10/09/2006 09:10:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick says the media should have more reporting, less opinion. His own column used to have lots of fresh reporting because he had lots of left wing friends who gave him stories. Now he has gone all right wing, he only has mad friends and almost no reporting, he is reduced to pure and stale opinion most of the time - the reason the footie story is here is because Jane Ashworth is one of the few of his new loony pals who does anything other than sit in front of a pc worrying about muslims.

10/09/2006 12:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Backword Dave said...

I'm embarrassed to see that Jane Ashworth and I made the same (fairly trivial) point at the same time on this Harry's Place thread.

10/09/2006 12:26:00 PM  
Anonymous Simon said...

Britain has actually done quite well in the Olympics in recent years. They've certainly done poorly in Athletics, and possibly Swimming (which is barely a sport and certainly not one I can be bothered to watch), but that isn't the same thing as the Olympics.

10/09/2006 12:38:00 PM  
Blogger Captain Cabernet said...

Interesting slippage in her comments on that thread ...

Public money is spent on middle class leisure at the expense of working class access to sport.

Since, on the JA view, most sport is an instance of "middle class leisure" then it ought to be no different to the things she objects to money being spent on. But by playing the "access" card she can bash the middle-class opera-goers in the same sentence as opening her beak for public funding. Of course, proponents of funding for the arts could appeal to "access" in exactly the same way that she does.

10/09/2006 12:44:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fallhammer say:

Plenty of money to be made chucking javelins. You just have to build up a strong celebrity persona and get the advertising gigs. Being sexy and moderately articulate (i.e., middle class) helps though.
Roll on Olympic darts!

10/09/2006 02:32:00 PM  

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